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What The Bloody Season Finale Means For Season 2 Of ‘House of the Dragon’

Rhaenyra Targaryen in final shot of 'House of the Dragon'

Season 1 of House of the Dragon came to a bloody and shocking end on Sunday night, with the Dance of the Dragons that has only been hinted at so far starting in earnest. Early viewing figures show 9.3 million viewers tuned in from the US, despite competing against Sunday night football.

The show has gone a long way to wiping away the stain of Game of Thrones Season 8, with widespread positive reviews and fan reactions. As Season 1 ends and the long wait for Season 2 begins, here’s a look over what exactly happened in the season finale—and what that could mean for next season.

What Happened in The ‘House of the Dragon’ Season 1 Finale?

The season finale, ‘The Black Queen,’ showed Rhaenyra and Daemon both reacting to the news of Viserys’ death, carried on dragonback by Princess Rhaenys. While Daemon urges Rhaenyra to strike quickly and decisively, she goes into labour, only to deliver a stillborn girl.

The highly ritualistic process of giving birth and then wrapping the infant in funeral clothes, to be burned on a pyre in Targaryen fashion, climaxes with Rhaenyra’s coronation. In stark contrast to Aegon’s coronation in the final scene of ‘The Green Council’ the previous week, Rhaenyra’s smaller coronation is outside and with her chosen few supporters, rather than a public spectacle.

When attending her first council as Queen, Rhaenyra also welcomes her step-daughters Baela and Rhaena to the painted table, highlighting that she is making space for women in her rule. This, alongside her refusal to follow Daemon’s plans for wars, wins Rhaenys Velaryon to her side, which Corlys pledges on behalf of their house. Corlys then joins in strategising with her other advisers.

After some debate, the Black council decides to send messages to Houses Stark, Tully, and Baratheon to remind them of their oaths to Rhaenyra. It’s believed that sending Princes Jacaerys and Lucerys on dragonback would make a better statement—but one that Rhaenyra will come to regret.

Rhaenyra and Lucerys Targaryen in House of the Dragon

Urging her sons not to take part in any bloodshed, she sends them off to bear her messages: Jace to Tully and Stark, and Luc to Baratheon. When Luc arrives, in a heavy rainstorm, he finds Prince Aemond and his enormous mount Vhagar waiting for him. The two princes verbally spar inside and Lord Borros Baratheon tells Luc that the Greens are offering a more lucrative deal than Rhaenyra. He sends the boy away, not wanting any violence in his hall.

Prince Lucerys leaves Storm’s End on dragonback, battling against the wing. His young dragon is barely big enough to bear him, and Vhagar quickly takes flight in pursuit. Aemond taunts the younger prince, and Luc narrowly avoids Vhagar. Taking refuge in the clouds, it seems that Luc and Arrax may have escaped—until Lucerys loses control of his young, frightened dragon.

Coming out of the clouds, he blasts Vhagar in the side of the face with flame. Enraged (or senile), the older, larger dragon chases him down, disobeying Aemond’s cries of “no.” As both dragons break through the cloud cover, Vhagar’s jaws come down on both dragon and prince, leaving just one wing and dragon leg to fall back to the ocean below.

Aemond is visibly shaken by what just happened, having clearly lost control of Vhagar. He looks back at the remains of Arrax with a look of shock and perhaps even fear of what is to come. Back at Dragontone, we hear no words as Daemon leans in to tell Rhaenyra the news and she slowly turns to look at the camera for the final shot of the season.

What Will The Blacks Do Next?

Fresh from the loss of her son, the final shot of Rhaenyra in the finale shows a mix of grief and rage. Having shown restraint so far, which won Rhaenys to her side, this could be a sign that the Black Queen will take bloodier methods than she’s been willing to so far.

Warning: spoilers ahead for George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood

Readers of Fire & Blood will know that what Rhaenyra does next in the books is certainly a bloody sort of revenge. Organised by Daemon, who promised Rhaenyra “a son for a son,” two assassins sneak into the Red Keep and find Queen Helaena and her three children. She’s told she must choose which son they will kill, as revenge for Prince Lucerys.

Although she refuses at first, she eventually chooses to kill the younger Maelor, reasoning that he will be less likely to understand. The assassins, known as Blood and Cheese, then cut the throat of the elder Jaeharys, leaving the other son alive with the knowledge his mother chose him to die.

This explodes the war into even bloodier levels, as war begins to break out across Westeros. We saw that Rhaenyra planned to trap the Greens in King’s Landing to force surrender and we also saw Daemon apparently trying to entice Vermithor, perhaps to take another ride. The camera also cut directly to Rhaena, suggesting she might be the one to take on the Old King’s previous mount.

Vermithor House of the Dragon

Prince Jacaerys will also presumably make it to Riverrun and Winterfell, suggesting we could see the Blacks at the Starks’ ancestral seat next season. After all, as the war explodes, the Blacks will need all the allies they can get.

What Will The Greens Do Next?

In Fire & Blood, both Dowager Queen Alicent and Otto Hightower are horrified at what Aemond has done. King Aegon, however, finds it hilarious and praises his brother’s actions.

It will be interesting to see how Aemond reacts and whether he tells his family that he lost control of Vhagar. Whether or not he does, it seems unlikely that they will make this news public for fear of appearing weak.

The death of Prince Jaeharys will likely hit Aemond hard, perhaps sparking him to still bloodier actions. Another Targaryen to keep an eye on will be Queen Helaena and her prophecies, foreshadowing what is it to come in Season 3.

Of course, Sir Criston Cole will also be a key player for the Greens, commanding their armies. In the books, he heads out into the Riverlands to fight the Black armies directly.

For both sides, we can expect Season 2 to be bloodier and more brutal than Season 1. In some ways, the first season is really a prologue for the war to come—and now it’s begun.

(featured image: HBO)

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